Darren Aronofsky travels to the Biblical age with Noah revisiting the Genesis flood narrative from The Old Testament and the construction of the greatest marvel known to existence, Noah’s Ark. With the sole ambition of saving the last traces of humanity—Noah and his family—and every animal possible in what is a total cleansing process banishing all that is evil and starting a fresh, the whole of existence, the Creator sends a colossal flood wiping away evil from the face of the Earth. Only the good-hearted Noah along with his family and the innocent animals survive to arrive at the laps of Mount Ararat. Mythical sciences around the world have suggested many flood narratives threatening to end the world and existence, as we understand. Noah’s Ark, being the most popular of such myths, becomes the subject for Aronofsky’s masterwork.
The descendent of Seth, the white one, Noah, played by Russell Crowe, pledges to save the soul of Creation by building an Ark with instructions from the Creator itself—a measure to survive the gargantuan flooding that would last 370 days. Whilst building the Ark, Noah comes across various impediments and sees the nature of humanity as corrupt, selfish, and egoistic. Facing opposition from descendants of Cain, the evil one, and with the aid of some giant, rocky troll-like creatures that are the Fallen Angels called The Watchers, Noah completes the task, but the real conflict—the real poison—is within him and the members of his family. Noah is a legend of inner viciousness more than outer conflict. It denotes the nature of human beings—the vile, ugly layer within the beautiful face—contrasting it to the beauty of every other organism in this planet that has more goodwill and purity inside than humans, the most conscious of all beings, yet the most derailed and desolate under whom creation has become the allegory of Hell.
As a movie, Noah has a lot of positives; it’s a must watch for the sheer imaginative visuals and to experience the mythical world in what is one of the most compelling, visually abundant cinemas that is a cinematic experience and a story relived. The time-lapse sequences, first of the diffusion of actuality around Noah’s Ark and second, the creation of creation are two of the grandest, visually spectacular pieces of optical reality on the screen. Subsequently, the special effects and the cinematography overwhelm the viewer. Not in a negative way, but the overdrive of the ocular grandeur stunts the story—making Noah a thrilling experience, a more style, less substance epic.
In essence, Noah fails to create an entrancing story—a compelling drama. Aronofsky avoids the provocative questions and emphasizes on the great escapade, yet as a story and a morally rich issue, Noah comes across superficial, with a flat story that is predictable and under the gimmick of some of the most tantalizing visuals in cinema. Stretching at 138 minutes, the pace is rather erratic, with it moving very slow in some occasions and progressing rapidly at other times. In many parts of the movie, the enchanting graphics and cinematography saved the movie from being a boring ride because it does tend to get groggy. The exchanges between Noah and his family, mostly his wife Naameh, played by Jennifer Connelly, gets too melodramatic and to the stage of annoying the viewers, especially the bickering pre-climax sequences.
If you ignore the inconsistencies in the story, the characters are all over the place. Whom am we supposed to sympathize with here? Noah comes across extremely bullheaded, a man with a superiority complex making it difficult to distinguish if God is a villain and a sadist enjoying the mayhem it created in the world. One could argue that Tubal Cain (Ray Winstone)—an animal eater—is the ultimate agent of the Devil and needs to perish from this beautiful creation of the Creator, but why would hoards of people deserve the fate? Is God not the all-compassionate one?
Moving to Noah’s family, his children, especially Ham (Logan Lerman), is rather a silent assassin, but the character terribly disappoints as Aronofsky builds and builds the personality of Ham—only for Ham to become a recluse at the end, who just doesn’t seem to be loved by his parents or wanted by anybody else. Could you really blame him? If at all, I felt for Ham because of how he seemed to be all lost and isolated amongst his own. In some way, the grand—the greater good concept—of Noah falls into a stifle trauma and a vengeful fight between family members sharing different ideologies, which is ironic considering the stakes of all of Creation’s existence was at the mercy of this one family and one man, Noah. The measure of significance makes the trifle conflicts between the family members and their scorn for Noah for doing what he had to do even more shameful because at the end, each comes across as a self-centered individual and how could the Creator decide that such people deserve the dignity of saving the world? It just makes the entire movie pointless and a gigantic waste of resources. It just fails to evoke any empathy from the viewer. The Creator “making” Noah do what he had to do is another laugh worthy motivation. Everybody is a sinner, so we should kill everybody—except animals! The makers don’t do the concept any favors with the plotting of the story and the sequences leaving much to be desired.
Apart from the spectacular visuals, Noah has only one other redeeming quality—Russell Crowe’s performance. Although the character is very controversial, Crowe does his absolute best in putting out a show that is among his best works. As a torn father, a loyal husband, an obedient and humble descendent of Seth, and the chosen one of God to carry out the mission, Russell Crowe grows with his character and his internal pain shows up on every fiber of his being. In fact, Crowe as Noah is the only thing that works in the movie apart from the dazzling CGI, which is sad because the theme of this story had much more in it than Aronofsky could deliver at the grandest stage.
Too patchy of a movie, too long, plodding at times, and a disappointment, Noah could have been so much more. It’s not a patch on Aronofsky’s previous works. It is pretentious and preposterous, and if not for Russell Crowe, the core of the movie could have been devastated due to the shockingly erratic handling of the overall story and the movie. The VFX, CGI, and the incredible underlining of Iceland save the movie from being a damp squib, but for a film admirer, Noah simply doesn’t deliver. I’d still recommend watching it for the enchanting experience, but don’t go expecting a story that would match up to the technology because it quite frankly lags way behind. A let down…